Curated Optogenetic Publication Database

Search precisely and efficiently by using the advantage of the hand-assigned publication tags that allow you to search for papers involving a specific trait, e.g. a particular optogenetic switch or a host organism.

Showing 1 - 25 of 201 results

Spatiotemporal optical control of Gαq-PLCβ interactions.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID HeLa RAW264.7 Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 12 Aug 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.08.10.552801 Link to full text
Abstract: Cells experience time-varying and spatially heterogeneous chemokine signals in vivo, activating cell surface proteins, including G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs). The Gαq pathway activation by GPCRs is a major signaling axis with a broad physiological and pathological significance. Compared to other Gα members, GαqGTP activates many crucial effectors, including PLCβ (Phospholipase Cβ) and Rho GEFs (Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factors). PLCβ regulates many key processes, such as hematopoiesis, synaptogenesis, and cell cycle, and is therefore implicated in terminal - debilitating diseases, including cancer, epilepsy, Huntington’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease. However, due to a lack of genetic and pharmacological tools, examining how the dynamic regulation of PLCβ signaling controls cellular physiology has been difficult. Since activated PLCβ induces several abrupt cellular changes, including cell morphology, examining how the other pathways downstream of Gq-GPCRs contribute to the overall signaling has also been difficult. Here we show the engineering, validation, and application of a highly selective and efficient optogenetic inhibitor (Opto-dHTH) to completely disrupt GαqGTP-PLCβ interactions reversibly in user-defined cellular-subcellular regions on optical command. Using this newly gained PLCβ signaling control, our data indicate that the molecular competition between RhoGEFs and PLCβ for GαqGTP determines the potency of Gq-GPCR-governed directional cell migration.

Optogenetic clustering and membrane translocation of the BcLOV4 photoreceptor.

blue BcLOV4 iLID HEK293T NIH/3T3 Signaling cascade control
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 1 Aug 2023 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2221615120 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic tools respond to light through one of a small number of behaviors including allosteric changes, dimerization, clustering, or membrane translocation. Here, we describe a new class of optogenetic actuator that simultaneously clusters and translocates to the plasma membrane in response to blue light. We demonstrate that dual translocation and clustering of the BcLOV4 photoreceptor can be harnessed for novel single-component optogenetic tools, including for control of the entire family of epidermal growth factor receptor (ErbB1-4) tyrosine kinases. We further find that clustering and membrane translocation are mechanistically linked. Stronger clustering increased the magnitude of translocation and downstream signaling, increased sensitivity to light by ~threefold-to-fourfold, and decreased the expression levels needed for strong signal activation. Thus light-induced clustering of BcLOV4 provides a strategy to generate a new class of optogenetic tools and to enhance existing ones.

Optogenetic control of the integrated stress response reveals proportional encoding and the stress memory landscape.

blue CRY2clust CRY2olig H4 HEK293T U-2 OS Signaling cascade control
Cell Syst, 19 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.cels.2023.06.001 Link to full text
Abstract: The integrated stress response (ISR) is a conserved signaling network that detects aberrations and computes cellular responses. Dissecting these computations has been difficult because physical and chemical inducers of stress activate multiple parallel pathways. To overcome this challenge, we engineered a photo-switchable control over the ISR sensor kinase PKR (opto-PKR), enabling virtual, on-target activation. Using light to control opto-PKR dynamics, we traced information flow through the transcriptome and for key downstream ISR effectors. Our analyses revealed a biphasic, proportional transcriptional response with two dynamic modes, transient and gradual, that correspond to adaptive and terminal outcomes. We then constructed an ordinary differential equation (ODE) model of the ISR, which demonstrated the dependence of future stress responses on past stress. Finally, we tested our model using high-throughput light-delivery to map the stress memory landscape. Our results demonstrate that cells encode information in stress levels, durations, and the timing between encounters. A record of this paper's transparent peer review process is included in the supplemental information.

Opto-RhoGEFs, an optimized optogenetic toolbox to reversibly control Rho GTPase activity on a global to subcellular scale, enabling precise control over vascular endothelial barrier strength.

blue iLID Magnets hBE HeLa Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Elife, 14 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.7554/elife.84364 Link to full text
Abstract: The inner layer of blood vessels consists of endothelial cells, which form the physical barrier between blood and tissue. This vascular barrier is tightly regulated and is defined by cell-cell contacts through adherens and tight junctions. To investigate the signaling that regulates vascular barrier strength, we focused on Rho GTPases, regulators of the actin cytoskeleton and known to control junction integrity. To manipulate Rho GTPase signaling in a temporal and spatial manner we applied optogenetics. Guanine-nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) domains from ITSN1, TIAM1, and p63RhoGEF, activating Cdc42, Rac, and Rho, respectively, were integrated into the optogenetic recruitment tool improved light-induced dimer (iLID). This tool allows for Rho GTPase activation at the subcellular level in a reversible and non-invasive manner by recruiting a GEF to a specific area at the plasma membrane, The membrane tag of iLID was optimized and a HaloTag was applied to gain more flexibility for multiplex imaging. The resulting optogenetically recruitable RhoGEFs (Opto-RhoGEFs) were tested in an endothelial cell monolayer and demonstrated precise temporal control of vascular barrier strength by a cell-cell overlap-dependent, VE-cadherin-independent, mechanism. Furthermore, Opto-RhoGEFs enabled precise optogenetic control in endothelial cells over morphological features such as cell size, cell roundness, local extension, and cell contraction. In conclusion, we have optimized and applied the optogenetic iLID GEF recruitment tool, that is Opto-RhoGEFs, to study the role of Rho GTPases in the vascular barrier of the endothelium and found that membrane protrusions at the junction region can rapidly increase barrier integrity independent of VE-cadherin.

Optogenetic dissection of RET signaling reveals robust activation of ERK and enhanced filopodia-like protrusions of regenerating axons.

blue CRY2/CRY2 primary mouse hippocampal neurons Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Mol Brain, 4 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1186/s13041-023-01046-6 Link to full text
Abstract: RET (REarranged during Transfection) is a receptor tyrosine kinase that transduces various external stimuli into biological functions, such as survival and differentiation, in neurons. In the current study, we developed an optogenetic tool for modulating RET signaling, termed optoRET, combining the cytosolic region of human RET with a blue-light-inducible homo-oligomerizing protein. By varying the duration of photoactivation, we were able to dynamically modulate RET signaling. Activation of optoRET recruited Grb2 (growth factor receptor-bound protein 2) and stimulated AKT and ERK (extracellular signal-regulated kinase) in cultured neurons, evoking robust and efficient ERK activation. By locally activating the distal part of the neuron, we were able to retrogradely transduce the AKT and ERK signal to the soma and trigger formation of filopodia-like F-actin structures at stimulated regions through Cdc42 (cell division control 42) activation. Importantly, we successfully modulated RET signaling in dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra in the mouse brain. Collectively, optoRET has the potential to be developed as a future therapeutic intervention, modulating RET downstream signaling with light.

Optogenetic control of Wnt signaling models cell-intrinsic embryogenic patterning using 2D human pluripotent stem cell culture.

blue CRY2/CRY2 hESCs human IPSCs Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Developmental processes
Development, 4 Jul 2023 DOI: 10.1242/dev.201386 Link to full text
Abstract: In embryonic stem cell (ESC) models for early development, spatially and temporally varying patterns of signaling and cell types emerge spontaneously. However, mechanistic insight into this dynamic self-organization is limited by a lack of methods for spatiotemporal control of signaling, and the relevance of signal dynamics and cell-to-cell variability to pattern emergence remains unknown. Here, we combine optogenetic stimulation, imaging, and transcriptomic approaches to study self-organization of human ESCs (hESC) in two-dimensional (2D) culture. Morphogen dynamics were controlled via optogenetic activation of canonical Wnt/β-catenin signaling (optoWnt), which drove broad transcriptional changes and mesendoderm differentiation at high efficiency (>99% cells). When activated within cell subpopulations, optoWnt induced cell self-organization into distinct epithelial and mesenchymal domains, mediated by changes in cell migration, an epithelial to mesenchymal-like transition, and TGF-β signaling. Furthermore, we demonstrate that such optogenetic control of cell subpopulations can be used to uncover signaling feedback mechanisms between neighboring cell types. These findings reveal that cell-to-cell variability in Wnt signaling is sufficient to generate tissue-scale patterning and establish an hESC model system for investigating feedback mechanisms relevant to early human embryogenesis.

An optogenetic-phosphoproteomic study reveals dynamic Akt1 signaling profiles in endothelial cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 EA.Hy926 HeLa HUVEC Signaling cascade control
Nat Commun, 26 Jun 2023 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-023-39514-1 Link to full text
Abstract: The serine/threonine kinase AKT is a central node in cell signaling. While aberrant AKT activation underlies the development of a variety of human diseases, how different patterns of AKT-dependent phosphorylation dictate downstream signaling and phenotypic outcomes remains largely enigmatic. Herein, we perform a systems-level analysis that integrates methodological advances in optogenetics, mass spectrometry-based phosphoproteomics, and bioinformatics to elucidate how different intensity, duration, and pattern of Akt1 stimulation lead to distinct temporal phosphorylation profiles in vascular endothelial cells. Through the analysis of ~35,000 phosphorylation sites across multiple conditions precisely controlled by light stimulation, we identify a series of signaling circuits activated downstream of Akt1 and interrogate how Akt1 signaling integrates with growth factor signaling in endothelial cells. Furthermore, our results categorize kinase substrates that are preferably activated by oscillating, transient, and sustained Akt1 signals. We validate a list of phosphorylation sites that covaried with Akt1 phosphorylation across experimental conditions as potential Akt1 substrates. Our resulting dataset provides a rich resource for future studies on AKT signaling and dynamics.

Synthetic Frizzled agonist and LRP antagonist for high-efficiency Wnt/β-catenin signaling manipulation in organoid cultures and in vivo.

blue Magnets HEK293T Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 22 Jun 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.06.21.545860 Link to full text
Abstract: Wnt/β-catenin signaling and its dysregulation play critical roles in the fate determination of stem cells and the pathology of various diseases. However, the application of translated Wnt ligand in regenerative medicine is hampered by its hydrophobicity and cross-reactivity with Frizzled (FZD) receptors. Here, we generate an engineered water-soluble, FZD subtype-specific agonist, RRP-pbFn, for high-efficiency Wnt/β-catenin signaling activation. In the absence of direct binding to LRP5/6, RRP-pbFn stimulates Wnt/β-catenin signaling more potently than surrogate Wnt. RRP-pbFn supports the growth of a variety of mouse and human organoids, and induces the expansion of liver and intestine progenitors in vivo. Meanwhile, we develop a synthetic LRP antagonist, RRP-Dkk1c, which exhibits heightened effectiveness in attenuating Wnt/β-catenin signaling activity compared to Dkk1, thereby abolishing the formation of CT26-derived colon cancer xenograft in vivo. Together, these two paired Wnt/β-catenin signaling manipulators hold great promise for biomedical research and potential therapeutics.

Actuation of single downstream nodes in growth factor network steers immune cell migration.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID D. discoideum HL-60 RAW264.7 Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Dev Cell, 22 May 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2023.04.019 Link to full text
Abstract: Ras signaling is typically associated with cell growth, but not direct regulation of motility or polarity. By optogenetically targeting different nodes in the Ras/PI3K/Akt network in differentiated human HL-60 neutrophils, we abruptly altered protrusive activity, bypassing the chemoattractant receptor/G-protein network. First, global recruitment of active KRas4B/HRas isoforms or a RasGEF, RasGRP4, immediately increased spreading and random motility. Second, activating Ras at the cell rear generated new protrusions, reversed pre-existing polarity, and steered sustained migration in neutrophils or murine RAW 264.7 macrophages. Third, recruiting a RasGAP, RASAL3, to cell fronts extinguished protrusions and changed migration direction. Remarkably, persistent RASAL3 recruitment at stable fronts abrogated directed migration in three different chemoattractant gradients. Fourth, local recruitment of the Ras-mTORC2 effector, Akt, in neutrophils or Dictyostelium amoebae generated new protrusions and rearranged pre-existing polarity. Overall, these optogenetic effects were mTORC2-dependent but relatively independent of PI3K. Thus, receptor-independent, local activations of classical growth-control pathways directly control actin assembly, cell shape, and migration modes.

Mechanosensitive stem cell fate choice is instructed by dynamic fluctuations in activation of Rho GTPases.

blue CRY2/CRY2 rat hippocampal NSCs Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape Cell differentiation
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 22 May 2023 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2219854120 Link to full text
Abstract: During the intricate process by which cells give rise to tissues, embryonic and adult stem cells are exposed to diverse mechanical signals from the extracellular matrix (ECM) that influence their fate. Cells can sense these cues in part through dynamic generation of protrusions, modulated and controlled by cyclic activation of Rho GTPases. However, it remains unclear how extracellular mechanical signals regulate Rho GTPase activation dynamics and how such rapid, transient activation dynamics are integrated to yield long-term, irreversible cell fate decisions. Here, we report that ECM stiffness cues alter not only the magnitude but also the temporal frequency of RhoA and Cdc42 activation in adult neural stem cells (NSCs). Using optogenetics to control the frequency of RhoA and Cdc42 activation, we further demonstrate that these dynamics are functionally significant, where high- vs. low-frequency activation of RhoA and Cdc42 drives astrocytic vs. neuronal differentiation, respectively. In addition, high-frequency Rho GTPase activation induces sustained phosphorylation of the TGFβ pathway effector SMAD1, which in turn drives the astrocytic differentiation. By contrast, under low-frequency Rho GTPase stimulation, cells fail to accumulate SMAD1 phosphorylation and instead undergo neurogenesis. Our findings reveal the temporal patterning of Rho GTPase signaling and the resulting accumulation of an SMAD1 signal as a critical mechanism through which ECM stiffness cues regulate NSC fate.

Optogenetic manipulation identifies the roles of ERK and AKT dynamics in controlling mouse embryonic stem cell exit from pluripotency.

blue CRY2/CRY2 mESCs Signaling cascade control Cell differentiation
Dev Cell, 18 May 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.devcel.2023.04.013 Link to full text
Abstract: ERK and AKT signaling control pluripotent cell self-renewal versus differentiation. ERK pathway activity over time (i.e., dynamics) is heterogeneous between individual pluripotent cells, even in response to the same stimuli. To analyze potential functions of ERK and AKT dynamics in controlling mouse embryonic stem cell (ESC) fates, we developed ESC lines and experimental pipelines for the simultaneous long-term manipulation and quantification of ERK or AKT dynamics and cell fates. We show that ERK activity duration or amplitude or the type of ERK dynamics (e.g., transient, sustained, or oscillatory) alone does not influence exit from pluripotency, but the sum of activity over time does. Interestingly, cells retain memory of previous ERK pulses, with duration of memory retention dependent on duration of previous pulse length. FGF receptor/AKT dynamics counteract ERK-induced pluripotency exit. These findings improve our understanding of how cells integrate dynamics from multiple signaling pathways and translate them into cell fate cues.

OptIC Notch reveals mechanism that regulates receptor interactions with CSL.

blue AsLOV2 CRY2/CIB1 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control
Development, 12 May 2023 DOI: 10.1242/dev.201785 Link to full text
Abstract: Active Notch signalling is elicited through receptor-ligand interactions that result in release of the Notch intracellular domain (NICD), which translocates into the nucleus. NICD activates transcription at target genes forming a complex with the DNA-binding transcription factor CSL (CBF1/Su(H)/Lag-1) and co-activator Mastermind. Despite this, CSL lacks its own nuclear localisation sequence, and it remains unclear where the tripartite complex is formed. To probe mechanisms involved, we designed an optogenetic approach to control NICD release (OptIC-Notch) and monitored consequences on complex formation and target gene activation. Strikingly we observed that, when uncleaved, OptIC-Notch sequestered CSL in the cytoplasm. Hypothesising that exposure of a juxta membrane ΦWΦP motif is key to sequestration, we masked this motif with a second light sensitive domain in OptIC-Notch{ω}, which was sufficient to prevent CSL sequestration. Furthermore, NICD produced by light-induced cleavage of OptIC-Notch or OptIC-Notch{ω} chaperoned CSL into the nucleus and induced target gene expression, showing efficient light controlled activation. Our results demonstrate that exposure of the ΦWΦP motif leads to CSL recruitment and suggest this can occur in the cytoplasm prior to nuclear entry.

Directed differentiation of human iPSCs into mesenchymal lineages by optogenetic control of TGF-β signaling.

blue CRY2/CIB1 human IPSCs Signaling cascade control Cell differentiation
Cell Rep, 12 May 2023 DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112509 Link to full text
Abstract: In tissue development and homeostasis, transforming growth factor (TGF)-β signaling is finely coordinated by latent forms and matrix sequestration. Optogenetics can offer precise and dynamic control of cell signaling. We report the development of an optogenetic human induced pluripotent stem cell system for TGF-β signaling and demonstrate its utility in directing differentiation into the smooth muscle, tenogenic, and chondrogenic lineages. Light-activated TGF-β signaling resulted in expression of differentiation markers at levels close to those in soluble factor-treated cultures, with minimal phototoxicity. In a cartilage-bone model, light-patterned TGF-β gradients allowed the establishment of hyaline-like layer of cartilage tissue at the articular surface while attenuating with depth to enable hypertrophic induction at the osteochondral interface. By selectively activating TGF-β signaling in co-cultures of light-responsive and non-responsive cells, undifferentiated and differentiated cells were simultaneously maintained in a single culture with shared medium. This platform can enable patient-specific and spatiotemporally precise studies of cellular decision making.

Optogenetic control of YAP can enhance the rate of wound healing.

blue AsLOV2 HEK293T MKN28 rat cardiomyocytes Signaling cascade control
Cell Mol Biol Lett, 11 May 2023 DOI: 10.1186/s11658-023-00446-9 Link to full text
Abstract: Tissues need to regenerate to restore function after injury. Yet, this regenerative capacity varies significantly between organs and between species. For example, in the heart, some species retain full regenerative capacity throughout their lifespan but human cardiac cells display a limited ability to repair the injury. After a myocardial infarction, the function of cardiomyocytes is impaired and reduces the ability of the heart to pump, causing heart failure. Therefore, there is a need to restore the function of an injured heart post myocardial infarction. We investigate in cell culture the role of the Yes-associated protein (YAP), a transcriptional co-regulator with a pivotal role in growth, in driving repair after injury.

Optogenetic inhibition of Gα signalling alters and regulates circuit functionality and early circuit formation.

blue CRY2/CIB1 C. elegans in vivo D. melanogaster in vivo HEK293A rat dorsal root ganglion NSCs zebrafish in vivo Signaling cascade control Developmental processes
bioRxiv, 8 May 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.05.06.539674 Link to full text
Abstract: Optogenetic techniques provide genetically targeted, spatially and temporally precise approaches to correlate cellular activities and physiological outcomes. In the nervous system, G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) have essential neuromodulatory functions through binding extracellular ligands to induce intracellular signaling cascades. In this work, we develop and validate a new optogenetic tool that disrupt Gαq signaling through membrane recruitment of a minimal Regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS) domain. This approach, Photo-induced Modulation of Gα protein – Inhibition of Gαq (PiGM-Iq), exhibited potent and selective inhibition of Gαq signaling. We alter the behavior of C. elegans and Drosophila with outcomes consistent with GPCR-Gαq disruption. PiGM-Iq also changes axon guidance in culture dorsal root ganglia neurons in response to serotonin. PiGM-Iq activation leads to developmental deficits in zebrafish embryos and larvae resulting in altered neuronal wiring and behavior. By altering the choice of minimal RGS domain, we also show that this approach is amenable to Gαi signaling.

Dynamics of an incoherent feedforward loop drive ERK-dependent pattern formation in the early Drosophila embryo.

blue iLID D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control Developmental processes
bioRxiv, 10 Mar 2023 DOI: 10.1101/2023.03.09.531972 Link to full text
Abstract: Positional information in developing tissues often takes the form of stripes of gene expression that mark the boundaries of a particular cell type or morphogenetic process. How stripes form is still in many cases poorly understood. Here we use optogenetics and live-cell biosensors to investigate one such pattern: the posterior stripe of brachyenteron (byn) expression in the early Drosophila embryo. This byn stripe depends on interpretation of an upstream signal – a gradient of ERK kinase activity – and the expression of two target genes tailless (tll) and huckebein (hkb) that exert antagonistic control over byn. We find that high or low doses of ERK signaling produce either transient or sustained byn expression, respectively. These ERK stimuli also regulate tll and hkb expression with distinct dynamics: tll transcription is rapidly induced under both low and high stimuli, whereas hkb transcription converts graded ERK inputs into an output switch with a variable time delay. Antagonistic regulatory paths acting on different timescales are hallmarks of an incoherent feedforward loop architecture, which is sufficient to explain transient or sustained byn dynamics and adds temporal complexity to the steady-state model of byn stripe formation. We further show that an all-or-none stimulus can be ‘blurred’ through intracellular diffusion to non-locally produce a stripe of byn gene expression. Overall, our study provides a blueprint for using optogenetic inputs to dissect developmental signal interpretation in space and time.

Mechanosensitive mTORC2 independently coordinates leading and trailing edge polarity programs during neutrophil migration.

blue iLID HL-60 Signaling cascade control Control of cytoskeleton / cell motility / cell shape
Mol Biol Cell, 1 Mar 2023 DOI: 10.1091/mbc.e22-05-0191 Link to full text
Abstract: By acting both upstream of and downstream from biochemical organizers of the cytoskeleton, physical forces function as central integrators of cell shape and movement. Here we use a combination of genetic, pharmacological, and optogenetic perturbations to probe the role of the conserved mechanosensitive mTOR complex 2 (mTORC2) programs in neutrophil polarity and motility. We find that the tension-based inhibition of leading-edge signals (Rac, F-actin) that underlies protrusion competition is gated by the kinase-independent role of the complex, whereas the regulation of RhoA and myosin II-based contractility at the trailing edge depend on mTORC2 kinase activity. mTORC2 is essential for spatial and temporal coordination of the front and back polarity programs for persistent migration under confinement. This mechanosensory pathway integrates multiple upstream signals, and we find that membrane stretch synergizes with biochemical co-input phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-trisphosphate to robustly amplify mTORC2 activation. Our results suggest that different signaling arms of mTORC2 regulate spatially and molecularly divergent cytoskeletal programs for efficient coordination of neutrophil shape and movement.

Optogenetic decoding of Akt2-regulated metabolic signaling pathways in skeletal muscle cells using transomics analysis.

blue CRY2/CIB1 C2C12 Signaling cascade control
Sci Signal, 21 Feb 2023 DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.abn0782 Link to full text
Abstract: Insulin regulates various cellular metabolic processes by activating specific isoforms of the Akt family of kinases. Here, we elucidated metabolic pathways that are regulated in an Akt2-dependent manner. We constructed a transomics network by quantifying phosphorylated Akt substrates, metabolites, and transcripts in C2C12 skeletal muscle cells with acute, optogenetically induced activation of Akt2. We found that Akt2-specific activation predominantly affected Akt substrate phosphorylation and metabolite regulation rather than transcript regulation. The transomics network revealed that Akt2 regulated the lower glycolysis pathway and nucleotide metabolism and cooperated with Akt2-independent signaling to promote the rate-limiting steps in these processes, such as the first step of glycolysis, glucose uptake, and the activation of the pyrimidine metabolic enzyme CAD. Together, our findings reveal the mechanism of Akt2-dependent metabolic pathway regulation, paving the way for Akt2-targeting therapeutics in diabetes and metabolic disorders.

Application of Optogenetics to Probe the Signaling Dynamics of Cell Fate Decision-Making.

blue iLID D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control
Methods Mol Biol, 2023 DOI: 10.1007/978-1-0716-3008-2_14 Link to full text
Abstract: The development of optogenetic control over signaling pathways has provided a unique opportunity to decode the role of signaling dynamics in cell fate programing. Here I present a protocol for decoding cell fates through systematic interrogation with optogenetics and visualization of signaling with live biosensors. Specifically, this is written for Erk control of cell fates using the optoSOS system in mammalian cells or Drosophila embryos, though it is intended to be adapted to apply generally for several optogenetic tools, pathways, and model systems. This guide focuses on calibrating these tools, tricks of their use, and using them to interrogate features which program cell fates.

Coupling Cell Communication and Optogenetics: Implementation of a Light-Inducible Intercellular System in Yeast.

blue VVD S. cerevisiae Signaling cascade control Transgene expression
ACS Synth Biol, 19 Dec 2022 DOI: 10.1021/acssynbio.2c00338 Link to full text
Abstract: Cell communication is a widespread mechanism in biology, allowing the transmission of information about environmental conditions. In order to understand how cell communication modulates relevant biological processes such as survival, division, differentiation, and apoptosis, different synthetic systems based on chemical induction have been successfully developed. In this work, we coupled cell communication and optogenetics in the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Our approach is based on two strains connected by the light-dependent production of α-factor pheromone in one cell type, which induces gene expression in the other type. After the individual characterization of the different variants of both strains, the optogenetic intercellular system was evaluated by combining the cells under contrasting illumination conditions. Using luciferase as a reporter gene, specific co-cultures at a 1:1 ratio displayed activation of the response upon constant blue light, which was not observed for the same cell mixtures grown in darkness. Then, the system was assessed at several dark/blue-light transitions, where the response level varies depending on the moment in which illumination was delivered. Furthermore, we observed that the amplitude of response can be tuned by modifying the initial ratio between both strains. Finally, the two-population system showed higher fold inductions in comparison with autonomous strains. Altogether, these results demonstrated that external light information is propagated through a diffusible signaling molecule to modulate gene expression in a synthetic system involving microbial cells, which will pave the road for studies allowing optogenetic control of population-level dynamics.

Optogenetic dissection of transcriptional repression in a multicellular organism.

blue AsLOV2 D. melanogaster in vivo Signaling cascade control Transgene expression Developmental processes
bioRxiv, 20 Nov 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.11.20.517211 Link to full text
Abstract: Transcriptional control is fundamental to cellular function. However, despite knowing that transcription factors can act as repressors or activators, how these functions are implemented at the molecular level has remained elusive. Here we combine optogenetics, single-cell live-imaging, and mathematical modeling to study how a zinc-finger repressor, Knirps, induces switch-like transitions into long-lived quiescent states. Using optogenetics, we demonstrate that repression is rapidly reversible (~1 minute) and memoryless. Finally, we show that the repressor acts by decreasing the frequency of transcriptional bursts in a manner consistent with an equilibrium binding model. Our results provide a quantitative framework for dissecting the in vivo biochemistry of eukaryotic transcriptional regulation.

Near-Infrared Nano-Optogenetic Activation of Cancer Immunotherapy via Engineered Bacteria.

blue EL222 E. coli Signaling cascade control Transgene expression
Adv Mater, 31 Oct 2022 DOI: 10.1002/adma.202207198 Link to full text
Abstract: Certain anaerobic microbes with the capability to colonize in tumor microenvironment tend to express the heterologous gene in a sustainable manner, which would inevitably comprise the therapeutic efficacy and induce off-tumor toxicity in vivo. To improve the therapeutic precision and controllability of bacteria-based therapeutics, Escherichia coli Nissle 1917 (EcN) engineered to sense blue light and release the encoded flagellin B (flaB), is conjugated with lanthanide upconversion nanoparticles (UCNPs) for near-infrared (NIR) nano-optogenetic cancer immunotherapy. Upon 808 nm photoirradiation, UCNPs emit at the blue region to photoactivate the EcN for secretion of flaB, which subsequently binds to Toll-like receptor 5 expressed on the membrane of macrophages for activating immune response via MyD88-dependent signal pathway. Such synergism leads to significant tumor regression in different tumor models and metastatic tumors with negligible side effects. Our studies based on NIR nano-optogenetic platform highlight the rational of leveraging the optogenetic tools combined natural propensity of certain bacteria for cancer immunotherapy. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Optogenetic-controlled immunotherapeutic designer cells for post-surgical cancer immunotherapy.

red BphS hMSCs Signaling cascade control Transgene expression
Nat Commun, 26 Oct 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-33891-9 Link to full text
Abstract: Surgical resection is the main treatment option for most solid tumors, yet cancer recurrence after surgical resection remains a significant challenge in cancer therapy. Recent advances in cancer immunotherapy are enabling radical cures for many tumor patients, but these technologies remain challenging to apply because of side effects related to uncontrollable immune system activation. Here, we develop far-red light-controlled immunomodulatory engineered cells (FLICs) that we load into a hydrogel scaffold, enabling the precise optogenetic control of cytokines release (IFN-β, TNF-α, and IL-12) upon illumination. Experiments with a B16F10 melanoma resection mouse model show that FLICs-loaded hydrogel implants placed at the surgical wound site achieve sustainable release of immunomodulatory cytokines, leading to prevention of tumor recurrence and increased animal survival. Moreover, the FLICs-loaded hydrogel implants elicit long-term immunological memory that prevents against tumor recurrence. Our findings illustrate that this optogenetic perioperative immunotherapy with FLICs-loaded hydrogel implants offers a safe treatment option for solid tumors based on activating host innate and adaptive immune systems to inhibit tumor recurrence after surgery. Beyond extending the optogenetics toolbox for immunotherapy, we envision that our optogenetic-controlled living cell factory platform could be deployed for other biomedical contexts requiring precision induction of bio-therapeutic dosage.

Mechanistic insights into cancer drug resistance through optogenetic PI3K signaling hyperactivation.

blue CRY2/CIB1 iLID A-375 Cos-7 HEK293T SW620 U-87 MG Signaling cascade control
Cell Chem Biol, 25 Oct 2022 DOI: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2022.10.002 Link to full text
Abstract: Hyperactivation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) signaling is a prominent feature in cancer cells. However, the mechanism underlying malignant behaviors in the state remains unknown. Here, we describe a mechanism of cancer drug resistance through the protein synthesis pathway, downstream of PI3K signaling. An optogenetic tool (named PPAP2) controlling PI3K signaling was developed. Melanoma cells stably expressing PPAP2 (A375-PPAP2) acquired resistance to a cancer drug in the hyperactivation state. Proteome analyses revealed that expression of the antiapoptotic factor tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced protein 8 (TNFAIP8) was upregulated. TNFAIP8 upregulation was mediated by protein translation from preexisting mRNA. These results suggest that cancer cells escape death via upregulation of TNFAIP8 expression from preexisting mRNA even though alkylating cancer drugs damage DNA.

Activity-based directed evolution of a membrane editor in mammalian cells.

blue CRY2/CIB1 HEK293T Signaling cascade control
bioRxiv, 26 Sep 2022 DOI: 10.1101/2022.09.26.509516 Link to full text
Abstract: Cellular membranes contain numerous lipid species, and efforts to understand the biological functions of individual lipids have been stymied by a lack of approaches for controlled modulation of membrane composition in situ. Here, we present a strategy for editing phospholipids, the most abundant lipids in biological membranes. Our membrane editor is based upon a bacterial phospholipase D (PLD), which exchanges phospholipid head groups through hydrolysis or transphosphatidylation of phosphatidylcholine with water or exogenous alcohols. Exploiting activity-dependent directed enzyme evolution in mammalian cells, we developed and structurally characterized a family of “superPLDs” with up to 100-fold higher activity than wildtype PLD. We demonstrated the utility of superPLDs for both optogenetics-enabled editing of phospholipids within specific organelle membranes in live cells and biocatalytic synthesis of natural and unnatural designer phospholipids in vitro. Beyond the superPLDs, activity-based directed enzyme evolution in mammalian cells is a generalizable approach to engineer additional chemoenzymatic biomolecule editors.
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